Archive for the ‘Infrastructure’ Category

March 21, 2017

HF 484/SF 456 A Gamble Not Worth Taking

Legislative Overreach

  • This legislation stands in stark contrast to Home Rule (the right for local self-government).
  • Iowa Code Chapter 388, states that a city may establish or dispose of a city utility, but it is subject to the approval of the voters of the city.
  • This legislation takes the right to vote out of the hands of the citizens of Des Moines, West Des Moines, and Urbandale.
  • In a recent survey of the Des Moines metro, 88% of registered voters said that people who live in the community should have final say over whether to remove an independent utility.
  • The poll results mirror the results of the West Des Moines vote in 2003, on whether or not to dissolve its independent water utility.

Regionalization is already Underway and should not be forced

  • Safe drinking water is a public health issue, and should not be gambled.
  • Regionalization needs to be done in a thoughtful and meaningful manner.
  • Des Moines Water Works is open to and has been actively participating in regionalization discussions for the past few years.
  • It is not necessary for the legislature to create a study committee to examine regionalization because one already exists.  It’s called CIRDWC – Central Iowa Regional Drinking Water Commission.
  • CIRDWC has already completed a regionalization study, and is now in the final stages of a 20-year forecast of the water needs in central Iowa.
  • CIRDWC already provides every metro community with a seat at the table.  This legislative action would not only duplicate and confuse ongoing efforts, but also disregard the work that has already be done.

HF 484 is a mess

  • It takes the management of delivering safe and affordable drinking water from professionals and puts in the hands of politicians.
  • HF 484, as written, has no plan, no mechanism for funding, no assurance that technical experts will be involved.
  • The bill has been changed numerous times; it has had new amendments and language added and then deleted.  The 500,000 people who rely on Des Moines Water Works have been left in the dark.
  • Water utility boards were set up independent from city councils for a reason – to protect a public health necessity from politics.  Simply stated, it is an independent local water utility owned by its customers and it works, and has worked for 100 years.
Posted by: Laura Sarcone 9 Comments
Labels: , , , Posted in Board of Trustees, History, Infrastructure, Public Policy, Source Water, Water Quality, Water Treatment March 17, 2017

New Des Moines Water radio ad warns of the downfalls regarding handing over the water utility to politicians.

DES MOINES, Iowa (March 17, 2017) – In response to legislation being considered by the Iowa House of Representatives, the Des Moines Water Works began running radio ads in central Iowa this week that encourages people to contact their state legislators and ask them to oppose House File 484.

The ad, entitled “Drip,” outlines the problems with letting politicians take over this independent utility. The ad also reminds listeners of the $40 million class action the City of Des Moines lost by illegally placing additional fees on gas and electric utility bills.

The legislation pending in the Iowa House would dissolve the Des Moines Water Works and transfer the utilities assets and management over to the Des Moines city council. A recent poll conducted by Harper Polling from March 9th to 12th found that 86% of registered voters rated the quality service provided by their local water utility at excellent or good.

“There is absolutely no need to dismantle the water boards in the metro area that have decades of experience of delivering safe and affordable drinking water,“ said Bill Stowe, CEO and General Manager, Des Moines Water Works.  “Water utility boards were set up independent from city councils for a reason – to protect a public health necessity from politics.”

In addition to high marks from water quality and service, the poll also shows that voters overwhelmingly oppose the legislation. Only 15 percent of respondents favor the controversial bill, while 68 percent oppose it.   Additionally, the survey showed a staggering 88 percent of voters believe that people who live in the community should have the final say over whether or not to remove an independent utility, not the state legislature (5%).

Click here to listen to the ad.

Script of the ad:

FEMALE VOICE-OVER TALENT/SFX

Drip…Drip…Drip… (SFX)

“That sound you hear… it’s the slow drip of big government grabbing hold of another part of your life.”

“…this time…

Kids splashing at pool, pouring a glass of water, a sprinkler in the yard, and faucet or shower being turned on. (SFX)

…it’s your water.

For nearly one hundred years, the Des Moines Water Works has delivered safe and affordable drinking water… it was set up independent from the Des Moines city council for one reason – to protect OUR drinking water from politics.

… but now…politicians in the state legislature… have a bill to dismantle the Des Moines Water Works… HF 484… which would give control over to the City of Des Moines. The same city of Des Moines that has a track record of financial mismanagement and recently lost a $40 million class action lawsuit over charging gas and electric customers an illegal fee.

Don’t let the management of delivering us safe and affordable drinking water be put it in the hands of politicians.

Call your State representatives today at 515-281-3221 and tell them to STOP playing politics with your drinking water, and vote NO on HF 484

Paid for by the Des Moines Water Works.

About Des Moines Water Works

Des Moines Water Works (DMWW) is a municipal water utility serving the citizens of Des Moines and surrounding communities (approximately 500,000 people). DMWW is an independently operated public utility with a commitment to leading, advocating and investing today and in the future to deliver water you can trust for life.

Posted by: Laura Sarcone 6 Comments
Labels: , , , , Posted in Board of Trustees, History, Infrastructure, Public Policy, Water Quality, Water Treatment January 10, 2017

Preventing Frozen Pipes

Winter weather brings the threat of frozen pipes. The following tips will help prevent your pipes from freezing:

  • Open kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors to allow warmer air to circulate around the plumbing.
  • Let cold water drip from the faucet served by exposed pipes. Running water through the pipe – even at a trickle – helps prevent pipes from freezing because the temperature of the water running through it is above freezing.

If you turn on a faucet and only a trickle comes out, suspect a frozen pipe. To safely and effectively thaw frozen water pipes, you must first diagnose where the pipe is frozen.

  • Start by checking water flow at every faucet in the house, including the bathtub faucets. This will help you determine the area of the blockage. If no water flows from the kitchen sink but the water in the bathroom sink works, then you are probably dealing with an isolated problem. Once you have figured out which faucets are affected by the frozen line you can figure out which pipe may be frozen.
  • Locate the main water shut-off valve, which could be located in the basement. It is important to shut off the water prior to thawing the pipes as a pipe may already have broken under the extreme pressure caused by the frozen line.
  • Now that the water is turned off, you have a few options to thaw the pipe. One is to use towels soaked in hot water. Wrap the frozen pipe with hot, wet towels and pour on additional hot water until the pipe has completely thawed. If the hot towel approach does not work, a hair dryer or heat gun may be the next solution. Turn on the dryer or heat gun and work up and down the length of the frozen line. Once the water starts to thaw and trickle out of the faucet, if you are sure the blockage hasn’t caused a broken pipe, you can turn the main water supply back on. Keep working with the heat source and keep the water faucet turned on until full water pressure is restored.

If no water flows from any of the faucets in the house, you are probably dealing with a frozen water service line that supplies water to the house. Turn on all faucets in the sinks and bathtub and turn off the main water supply. Follow the suggestions above but apply the heat directly to the pipe that enters the house.
Never use a heat source with an open flame, such as a blowtorch or propane heater, to thaw a frozen water line as an open flame in a home can present a serious fire hazard as well as the possibility of exposure to carbon monoxide poisoning. Also, excessive heat from a blowtorch applied to a frozen pipe can cause the water inside the pipe to boil and possibly explode.

If your pipes have frozen once, chances are they will freeze again. Before the onset of cold weather, prevent freezing of your water supply lines and pipes by following these recommendations:

  • Drain water from swimming pool and water sprinkler supply lines following manufacturer’s or installer’s directions.
  • Remove, drain, and store hoses used outdoors. Close inside valves supplying outdoor hose bibs. Open the outside hose bibs to allow water to drain. Keep the outside valve open so that any water remaining in the pipe can expand without cause the pipe to break.
  • Wrap outside water pipes or water pipes located under the house or crawl spaces with an insulation material such as
    newspaper or electric heat tape taking special care to cover all elbow joints, valve bodies, tees and any other fittings.
  • If you are going on vacation during cold weather, leave the heat on in your home, set to a temperature no lower than 55ºF.
Posted by: Laura Sarcone No Comments
Labels: , , , , Posted in Customer Service, Infrastructure August 31, 2015

Des Moines Water Works will Host Regional Infor EAM User Conference

Logo-Infor-1-Des Moines Water Works will host a Regional Infor Enterprise Asset Management (EAM) User Conference on November 19. Des Moines Water Works was chosen out of the many EAM customers because of its world-class EAM implementation and facilities.

What makes Des Moines Water Works’ EAM implementation world class?

  • Des Moines Water Works’ geographic information system (GIS) integration is the largest of any of Infor’s 15,000 customers worldwide.
  • Des Moines Water Works’ integration with PeopleSoft and ADP are also noteworthy accomplishments that eliminate duplicate data entry.
  • Integration with supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) allows Des Moines Water Works operations to start work orders from the SCADA screen. Equipment run times are imported into EAM to schedule preventive maintenance.
  • Integration with Motors@Work flags potential electrical and system issues based on real-time data from SCADA.
  • Utility bill management analyzes each of our monthly utility bills – around 50 in all – and provides information such as increasing consumption, errors, and anomalies.
  • Energy data uploads to the Department of Energy’s EnergyStar Portfolio Manager gives Des Moines Water Works valuable information on how the utility compares to other water utilities across the country.
  • Des Moines Water Works’ field communications are the envy of not just other EAM users, but other businesses with field service/customer support. Complete corporate network access anywhere a 4G LTE connection is available is truly world class.

Des Moines Water Works’ partners are the keystone to successful implementation and integration of EAM. Stratum Consulting Partners has been with Des Moines Water Works for many years, dating back to the MP2 days in Water Production. Stratum has been a partner throughout Des Moines Water Works’ entire implementation and continues to provide highly capable resources that know how to get the job done.

Asynerlytics, LLC, partnered with Des Moines Water Works to integrate energy and reliability components that will provide ongoing world class energy and asset management structure within EAM. This structure will be a key component in Des Moines Water Works’ Energy Management System as the utility progresses to ISO 50001 and Department of Energy Superior Energy Performance certifications.

Infor’s Dale Wilkinson and Asynerlytics’ Bill Miller were instrumental in bringing the conference to Des Moines Water Works.

Infor is handling event details and additional information will be available soon.

Posted by: Laura Sarcone No Comments
Labels: , Posted in Infrastructure August 20, 2015

Plans for Third Aquifer Storage and Recovery Well

ASRDes Moines Water Works has utilized aquifer storage and recovery (ASR) wells as sources of water since 2008.  These wells are installed deep into the Jordan Aquifer and are used to store treated water that is needed when water demand is high.  When water demand is low, mainly during winter months, treated water is injected into the wells which displaces the native Jordan water around the wells. A total of 270 million gallons can be stored in an ASR well during the winter months when Des Moines Water Works has excess water treatment capacity.  In summer months, during higher water demand, the drinking water is pumped out of the ASR well and into the water distribution system for use by customers.  The wells pump for a total of 90 days to recover the 270 million gallons put into the wells.  ASR wells can be constructed for about one-third the cost of adding capacity to an existing water treatment plant.  Des Moines Water Works currently operates two ASR wells, and plans for a third are underway.

West Des Moines Water Works, a wholesale customer of Des Moines Water Works, desires to purchase additional water from Des Moines Water Works in order to meet the needs of a large-demand customer, Microsoft Corporation, who is developing a facility in the southeast portion of West Des Moines Water Works’ service area.  In order to meet the water demand requirements of Microsoft, West Des Moines Water Works, City of West Des Moines and Des Moines Water Works have agreed to a joint project to construct a 3.0 million gallon per day (mgd) ASR well. The City of West Des Moines will pay the estimated $3,591,132 construction cost of the ASR well.  Des Moines Water Works will contribute a 5.28 acre parcel of land it already owns. Des Moines Water Works will be responsible for the design of the new Army Post Road ASR facility and will administer and oversee its construction. The project is expected to be completed by the end of 2016. Des Moines Water Works will own the ASR upon completion, will have full operational control of the constructed assets, and will retain the right to use the ASR to serve customers, including but not limited to Microsoft.

 

Posted by: Laura Sarcone No Comments
Labels: , , , , Posted in Infrastructure, Water Treatment November 24, 2014

Investment in Aging Water Infrastructure and Degraded Source Water

PumpsIn setting water rates and the proposed budget for 2015, the Board of Water Works Trustees has demonstrated a continued commitment to investing in Des Moines’ aging water infrastructure and providing safe water to customers, despite increasingly poor quality of source waters.

“While Des Moines Water Works has a long history of substantial reinvestment in water infrastructure, the aging of our assets and our increasing concerns about the impacts of climate change requires even greater investment going forward,” said Bill Stowe, Des Moines Water Works CEO and General Manager. “The degradation of our infrastructure is evidenced by the increasing number of main breaks, and affects our mission to provide a quality and reliable service to our customers.”

The Board of Water Works Trustees believe in a funding philosophy of “pay as you go,” where improvements and replacements are funded through rates and not funded by debt, all while maintaining reasonable water rates in relation to the rest of the country.

The proposed Des Moines Water Works’ 2015 calendar year budget includes rate increases for Des Moines, total service, and wholesale water customers. The rate increases include a 7% increase for Des Moines and total service customers and a 5% increase for wholesale customers, namely suburban customers who purchase water from Des Moines Water Works to resell to their residents. The 7% rate increase is only for the water portion of the monthly bill, not city services that Des Moines Water Works collects for city agencies. For a typical four-person household inside the city of Des Moines, the 7% increase equates to an additional $1.65 on a customer’s monthly water bill.

Certain service areas, such as unincorporated Polk County, have greater capital needs to combat an aging system and accommodate growth. Beyond a 7% increase in rates, those customers will have an additional $1.50/thousand gallon fee that will fund significant capital improvements in the service area.

The 7% increase for Des Moines customers is fundamental to supporting operations and a healthy capital reinvestment program, including facilities necessary to adequately treat source waters that continue to degrade.

“Delivering safe and reliable water to our customers is a capital intensive responsibility,” said Stowe. “Even while working efficiently, the costs for treatment and distribution of water continue to rise. To not invest in critical water infrastructure and capital improvement projects would be irresponsible.”

In addition to investment in the aging infrastructure, the 2015 rates reflect the nearly $1 million Des Moines Water Works spent in 2013 to reduce nitrate concentrations found in Des Moines Water Works’ source waters to a level below the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s safe drinking water standard.

Within the proposed 2015 budget, 16% of the utility’s capital budget will be spent on improvements to naturally reduce rising nitrate levels in source waters. This includes the use of sand quarries and gravel pits that naturally filter nitrate – a longer term investment and more cost effective solution in comparison to operating and expanding the expensive nitrate removal facility.

New water rates will go into effect April 1, 2015. A complete listing of Des Moines Water Works’ 2015 water rate structure is available at www.dmww.com/upl/documents/library/2015-water-rates.pdf.

Posted by: Laura Sarcone No Comments
Labels: , , , , Posted in Infrastructure, Rates, Value of Water, Water Quality October 10, 2014

Des Moines Water Works’ Role in Fire Protection

As National Fire Prevention Week concludes, we look at Des Moines Water Works’ role in assisting fire crews with fire protection of the community, as seen during a major fire earlier this year in downtown Des Moines.

It was shortly after 1:00 a.m. on March 29, when Des Moines Water Works received a call from Polk County Emergency Management. They alerted Water Works that fire crews would be using multiple hydrants and a large amount of water to fight a structure fire in downtown Des Moines.

Christopher Gannon/The Des Moines Register

It was the 115-year-old downtown Des Moines building that housed an iconic Younkers department store and the popular Younkers Tea Room for decades. The building, which was undergoing a $37 million rental and retail renovation that was to be a cornerstone for redevelopment along Walnut Street, was equipped with a construction standpipe, but the fire alarm and sprinkler system installations were not yet complete.

The rare, three-alarm fire required massive amounts of water to fight the fire and control damages.

At the height of the fire, Des Moines Fire Department was coordinating a total of 18 trucks on the scene, with several trucks each pumping 1,500 gallons of water per minute, for close to five hours.

An estimated total of eight million gallons of water was used from the beginning of the firefighting, around 1:00 a.m. Saturday, well into Sunday.  That is equivalent to the amount of water demanded by an entire community (similarly sized to the city of Ankeny) in one day at the peak of irrigation season in the summer.

To accommodate the hike in demand, Des Moines Water Works had to draw water from the Raccoon River, process, and then pump the water at a higher rate than a typical early morning in March. The increase in demand caused no system failures.

Des Moines Water Works facilities within the city of Des Moines are designed and constructed with extra capacity specifically intended to provide fire protection. In fact, fire protection demand is often what determines the size and location of the facilities that will be installed.

The minimum pipe diameter used for water mains in the City of Des Moines is 8-inch.  This is more than large enough to provide domestic service, but the larger size is necessary to provide fire protection.  The same is true for storage facilities and pumping stations around town. All are sized and located specifically to ensure adequate fire protection.

While many of us drive or walk past fire hydrants without much thought, Des Moines Water Works takes great pride in the installation and maintenance of the 9,600 fire hydrants in Des Moines and surrounding communities, which provide an essential function in adequate fire protection for the community.

Insurance Service Office, Inc. (ISO) regularly conducts evaluations which they refer to as Public Protection Classification surveys. The survey is a measure of a community’s capabilities related to fire protection. In 2010, a survey was conducted in Des Moines. The water supply received a score of 37.19 out of 40 and a Class 1 rating, or the highest possible rating. This shows that the water system in Des Moines is well positioned to provide adequate fire protection to its customers.

Christopher Gannon/The Des Moines Register

The Younkers fire was an extraordinary event that unfolded in real-time via social media. No persons were injured and the efforts by firefighters to control the damages caused by the fire have allowed the remaining portions of the building to continue to be redeveloped, including the beloved Tea Room.

 

Photos by Christopher Gannon/The Des Moines Register.

Posted by: Laura Sarcone No Comments
Labels: , , , , , Posted in Infrastructure, Value of Water April 16, 2014

Bicycle Fundraising Event in Des Moines for Clean Water

The Water Ride

The Move Project will host their second annual ride for clean water – The Water Ride – on May 17.  The Water Ride is a bicycle ride, starting and ending at Water Works Park, which raises funds for clean water projects in Ghana, West Africa.  Participants and park visitors will enjoy live entertainment after the ride at Water Works Park, with educational activities highlighting the need for clean water in rural villages in Africa. Des Moines Water Works is the sponsor of The Water Ride.

“This event is powerful in that 100% of the funds raised on this ride will go directly to providing clean water to a community in Africa. Having access to clean water affords individuals and families the opportunity to receive an education, work and live a healthier life,” said Sam Mahlstadt, co-founder of The Move Project.

The Move Project is a non-profit organization that focuses on the alleviation of poverty, freeing slaves, providing shelter to the homeless, and food and water to those without access to these life essentials.

“The Water Ride elevates our community’s awareness of the inaccessibility of water in other countries, as well as celebrates our local drinking water quality,” said Bill Stowe, CEO and General Manager, Des Moines Water Works. “The Water Ride is a great way to emphasize the value of drinking water to a community’s overall health.”

The well will be installed in the village of Tsipasi, in Ghana, West Africa. The village’s name ironically means a place with abundant water, but the unfortunate reality is that the people of the village are without access to clean water.

“The clean water well will be our first, albeit significant, step to joining hands with a community and helping them break the cycle of poverty. It will be a slow, difficult, and complex effort, but we are convinced that we must make a move,” said Mahlstadt.

For more information and to sign up for the bike ride, visit http://www.themoveproject.org/water.

Posted by: Laura Sarcone No Comments
Labels: , , , , Posted in About Us, Customer Service, Infrastructure February 14, 2014

Main Breaks by the Numbers: 200 Main Breaks in First Six Weeks of 2014

DSC_2681Despite an aggressive preventative maintenance program in Central Iowa, water mains around Des Moines are breaking at a record number, Cold weather and corrosion of pipes have teamed up to cause pipe failures. The extreme drop in mercury drives frost penetration to a greater depth.  Deeper frost penetration causes the corroded water mains to break. With expected warmer temperatures in the coming days, it can cause the frost line to move quickly and cause breaks as well.

The American Society of Civil Engineers’ 2013 grade for America’s drinking water infrastructure was a D, which is no surprise considering Des Moines Water Works has repaired a record number of main breaks in one month: 122 breaks in January. To date, Des Moines Water Works crews have repaired 200 main breaks, with as many as 12 in a single day.

The 10 year average for total main breaks in a year is 290. On average, half of the main breaks occur in the three winter months of December, January and February.  The total number of main breaks in 2013 was 342. The highest number of breaks in one year was 365, set in 1988.

The average cost of a main break is around $5,000-7,000 for labor, materials and equipment. This does not account for the loss of water at a main break. The 2014 budget for emergency repairs is approximately $1.5 million. So far in 2014, Des Moines Water Works has spent approximately $1 million in repairing water mains.  Any impact of this year’s main break experience will be analyzed when determining the 2015 water rates.

Though largely out of sight and out of mind, Des Moines Water Works operates and maintains more than 1,300 miles of underground water mains distributing finished drinking water to homes and business in Des Moines and surrounding communities. The pipes in the distribution system are made from cast iron, concrete and plastic and also vary in size, from half-inch diameter service lines to 48-inch diameter transmission mains. Pipes installed between 1940 and 1960 are leading to most of the main breaks in Des Moines. The oldest pipe (circa 1900), which can be found in Downtown Des Moines, is some of the best in the distribution system.

“While every main break is different, fixing it quickly and safely are top priorities,” said Bill Stowe, CEO and General Manager, Des Moines Water Works. “Our goal is to minimize disruption to our customers who live, work and commute in the area.”

Des Moines Water Works invests millions of dollars each year in infrastructure improvements. The 2014 capital improvements budget includes $2.2 million for water main replacement within the Des Moines water distribution system. These funds will be used to replace water mains that have reached their useful life expectancy – water mains with a high occurrence of breaks.

Posted by: Laura Sarcone No Comments
Labels: , , , , Posted in About Us, Customers, Infrastructure November 20, 2013

Finding the Leaks

Finding leaks early helps reduce the level of damage that a larger main break might cause. Leak detection also helps keep production costs down, which in turn has a positive impact on our customer’s water rates.

DMWW began its leak detection program in 1983.  At the start of the program, DMWW’s unaccounted for water (total pumpage minus billed) was at 15 percent.  Today, DMWW’s unaccounted for water is 7-9 percent.

Water Distribution’s staff performs an annual leak survey of the distribution system.  In addition, leak survey and follow-up activities are conducted for other metro area communities, plumbers, contractors and property owners.

The leak detection team uses a highly sensitive electronic sounding device to listen for leaks.  The leak surveyor systematically works his or her way through the distribution system sounding valves, blow-offs and hydrants, searching for leaks.  When a leak sound is discovered, the leak surveyor records the leak in DMWW’s geographic information system (GIS) software.  These leaks can be as small as pinholes in the pipe or as large as a split main.

Follow-up involves sounding the structures where a leak sound was found during the survey.  The Field Service Technician must determine if the leak is actually on the valve, hydrant, or the main.  A leak correlator and outstation sensors are used to run scans on the water main to pinpoint the location of a leak.  The leak can usually be pinpointed within one to two feet of its actual location. Identified leaks are then turned over to a repair crew.

Advance pinpointing of leaks and main breaks saves Des Moines Water Works $30,000 to $50,000 each year in labor costs.

Posted by: Laura Sarcone No Comments
Labels: , , , , , Posted in Infrastructure, Value of Water